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Appropriate company for mice

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Ensure your mice have appropriate company
 

Two mice together © Fotolia / Emilia Stasiak

Mice need:

  • Housing in single-sex, stable, compatible, harmonious groups:
    -Ask breeders to pre-group before weaning, ensuring the group comprises of mice that know each other, ideally siblings.
    - Keep the group the same; don’t add/remove individuals. Upsetting the group’s complex organisation by adding/removing even one individual can cause intense, stressful conflict which can affect the welfare of all mice.
    - Ensure males can’t smell females, as this can increase aggression between male cage mates.
     
  • Housing with other mice – they’re gregarious and social. Never house them alone unless it’s under specific veterinary recommendations. They find social isolation and/or individual housing incredibly stressful. If it’s required, ensure they can see/hear/smell other mice of their own gender, and provide them with additional environmental resources to meet their needs.
     
  • Consideration. Take care with group size/composition, and husbandry, when housing male mice in groups and ensure minimum disturbance. They can be aggressive to other mice they aren’t familiar with. Mice form a complex social organisation within the group. How each individual fits within this social group can depend on age/gender/position/reproductive condition.
     
  • Monitoring immediately after grouping and when they’re placed back in the cage after cleaning, to avoid aggression.
     
  • Checking regularly to ensure aggression isn’t becoming a problem.
     
  • Positive interactions with you. Gently habituate them to you; this reduces the stress associated with handling. Mice are a prey species; if not properly habituated to human interaction can find handling very stressful.
     
  • Housing away from other rodent species. Ensure wild rodents can’t enter the area where you house mice. They can also find the presence/scent of other animals in the home stressful.
     
  • You to wash your hands and cage equipment properly before handling different species, and handling mice from different cages. Other rodent species don’t make suitable companions for mice; they carry diseases which can be transmitted to mice and vice versa. Such diseases affect health and can be fatal.
     
  • Themselves, and their home-cage, to be kept away from other animals within the home.